KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Former Tennessee linebacker Daniel Bituli is one of the six Vols preparing to enter their rookie season in the NFL (pending on if the season is played).
Butili battled with injury at the beginning of last season, putting him out of the first two games. The middle linebacker battled back to lead the Vols in tackles for the third straight season. Bituli closed out his senior season with 88 total tackles, 5 tackles for a loss and 3 sacks and capped a season high in tackles against Kentucky with 19.
Bituli ended up signing as an undrafted free agent with the Los Angeles Rams, fulfilling a dream of his he has worked towards his entire life.
“This goal that I’ve finally achieved that I worked for my whole life,” said Bituli, “Just going through the hardships that I’ve had, ya know, growing up as a kid and finally just getting this award of playing for the LA Rams is just an amazing feeling.”
While he waits to report to camp on July 23, he has been getting reps in at D1 training in Hardin Valley, working with owner and trainer Devin Driscoll.
No stranger to hard work, Driscoll said Bituli has a motor in the weight room that he has not seen for a long time and takes notice of his optimistic attitude.
“His positive attitude is infectious and is going to have an incredible season,” said Driscoll.
Bituli can be found in the weight room at D1 just about every day. The LA Ram said he is trying to stay in the best shape that he can while taking ample time to recover by icing after each session and eating healthy.
The Congo native and Nashville product is also utilizing this time to rehab his knee and groin saying, “I’ve been able to recover my knee since the surgery and my groin as well.”
In the weight room and on the turf, the linebacker is focusing on “things that he felt he needed to fix as a player at Tennessee,” getting in the reps at D1 that he said he wasn’t able to get in during college.
“I’ve been able to get the reps that I’ve needed my body has been able to recover and I’m just grateful for it,” said Bituli.
A versatile linebacker who can be found anywhere the ball is, Bituli said he feels confident ahead of this opportunity with the Rams.
“The Rams run the same defensive system that we ran at Tennessee so it’s definitely something that I’m familiar with, so I’m really excited,” said Bituli.
Bituli said he just has to get comfortable with some of the different verbiage they use calling plays and minor adjustments on defense that are different than Tennessee, but other than that he is ready and excited to learn under Joe Barry and get the opportunity to play for Sean McVay (the youngest head coach to in football history to lead his team to the Super Bowl).
Besides physically preparing, Bituli mentally prepares by watching film like “it’s Netflix.”
Bituli has been in contact with his former teammates John Kelly and Ethan Wolfe that he will now join in L.A. Wolfe too works out at D1 and tells him “everything about the LB room and how they needed some help” motivating Bituli to “make his mark” to get on the field as fast as he can to help his team out.
While the dominant linebacker is focused on the future ahead, he reflects at his time at Rocky Top.
Bituli will miss Saturdays at Neyland Stadium, running through the “T” as 102,455 fans cheer at the top of their lungs.
“I knew coming into Tennessee how amazing these fans were,” said Bituli who has been very grateful for their support.
He recalls a “cool” moment with fans while flying home last week, he sat in a row of Tennessee fans and got to know them and take a picture with them adding, “there’s never going to be a fan base like that.”
The notable linebacker said he will also miss playing for Jeremy Pruitt.
“Coach Pruitt is No. 1,” said Bituli, “This man, he’s a genius and he knows what he’s talking about. Anytime I have any questions; football-related or even outside of football I will definitely give him a call and get some advice from him.”
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